A Passion For People
Bernie Gilligan was saved from an extensive life of sin at the age of 30 on Feb. 7, 1994. Still in a battle with an addiction to alcohol Bernie ran from the Lord for 6 years. The Lord allowed Bernie to sink lower and lower in misery until one day he asked the Lord for one more chance and asked the Lord to remove the desire for alcohol from him. On June 24, 2000, the Lord answered Bernie's prayer and gave him the victory over his addiction. Shortly thereafter, Bernie's brother died from his injuries shortly after a tragic accident at the age of 40. As a result of these events, Bernie got back in to church and started growing as a Christian.
In 2005, while attending Bible institute classes, preacher boy’s classes, as well as having opportunities to give his testimony in church and in prisons, Bernie surrendered to God's call to preach the Gospel. Bernie met his wife Christina in church and they were married in 2005. They now have 2 daughters, Abigail and Ruthie. Soon after they were married, Bernie and Christina surrendered to full time service as missionaries to the prisons. The Lord has used the Gilligan family over the years to reach hundreds of prisoners with the Gospel. Through preaching and teaching in the prisons as well as aftercare ministries, housing men that have been released, picking men up for addictions programs on Friday nights, and bringing groups of men to church on Sunday.
The Gilligan's moved their ministry to Bethel Baptist Church in November of 2018 where the Pastor and members have a heart for the men and the ministry and minister to the men alongside the Gilligan's on a weekly basis.
God’s Love Revealed
Clearly our goal is to reach as many prisoners with the Gospel as possible. Why? God's love changes people, without it habits and behaviors continue. These men have done the crime and they must do the time, but it is God’s will that all people have abundant life. This life is discovered in and through the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. His death is the outpouring of God’s love for us. Bernie Gilligan has an intense desire for these men to be discipled and for each man to experience personally the love of God.
Meetings Held at The Transition Center of St. Louis
Bernie has the unique opportunity to hold a meeting every Friday night at the Transition Center of Saint Louis. This an institution run by the Missouri Department of Corrections for men that are transitioning from prison back into society. For two hours on Friday nights Bernie spends time with an average of sixty men teaching and helping them to have a good foundation and the tools they need in order to have a successful Christian life while in prison and especially when released into society. With love and diligence Bernie helps the men to understand that if they are not serious about discipleship while in prison they will not be serious when they get out of prison. These Friday night meetings consist of singing hymns and spiritual songs, prayer and testimony given by the men, Bernie Gilligan or his fellow laborer Mark Shelton then delivering a message from God's Word, followed by a time for snacks and fellowship. The Reformers Unanimous Addictions Program curriculum is utilized for discipleship as well as helping the men to have a daily walk with the Lord.Bernie has the unique opportunity to hold a meeting every Friday night at the Transition Center of Saint Louis. This an institution run by
A Chance for Change
After the men at the transition center attend two consecutive Friday night meetings with Bernie they are eligible to go to church at Bethel Baptist church the following Sunday. The men really look forward to this and do their best to dress up for the occasion. Brother Gilligan picks the men up every Sunday morning in the church bus, they enjoy coffee and donuts on the way to church, attend Sunday school as well as the Sunday morning service. There are as many as twenty to forty men attending. Not only is Bernie heavily involved and active in ministering to these men, but his wife Christina, daughters Abigail and Ruthie have an important part as well. After the service, the men are served a hot lunch prepared and served by Bernie’s wife and children, with the help of church members, and then returned to the transition center. The men that visit for the first time are given a hygiene bag, since many of them don’t have the resources to purchase hygiene products. All of these layers of contact with the men at the transition center has enabled Brother Gilligan, his family, and the church members to help many men with their different needs; bibles, clothes, shoes, hygiene items, help finding work, obtaining their driver’s license, and help with housing in some cases, to name a few.